Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ann Curry

Was it that Matt Lauer just didn't like her?

Could viewers tell that she didn't like doing the mandatory pop culture and food segments, preferring to do more hard news, which hurt ratings?

Fortunately, in spite of the public humiliation of the past weeks' events, she has a long term seven year contract, so NBC is going to have to find a more suitable position for her desires and talents.

Ann won't be joining the ranks of the unemployed, as probably would have happened if a similar thing happened at your radio station making the negative fallout from a poor choice in matching talent with an opportunity greater..

Anyone who has had to make tough personnel decisions or who has been the victim of them simply has to feel for both Ann and NBC News chief Steve Capus, who decided to pull the plug on her last week.

The trouble with change in radio and television is that the first folks who learn about it are the people who like and enjoy the personality, since people who had been turned off by poor personal chemistry, content that didn't relate to them or the fact that they just didn't connect .. and most likely they were no longer viewing or listening.

So, even if a terrific new person is brought in to "fix" the problem, the numbers will still most likely go down, taking a long time to rebuild.

Curry told USA Today's Susan Page that her new job as one that any journalist would crave, she makes no secret that the very public process that pushed her out of the co-host chair amid rumor-fed headlines has left wounds.

"I don't know who has been behind the leaks, but no question they've hurt deeply," she says. She admits she would have liked more time to work things out as co-host, and she bristles a bit at the suggestion that she lacked "chemistry" with co-host Matt Lauer.

"You know, Matt and I have had great on-air chemistry for 14 years, been part of the No. 1 winning team for a history-making number of years," she says. "That said, I just finished my freshman year as co-host. In every single co-host's first year, there have been kinks to be worked out, and perhaps I deserve as much blame for that as anyone."

Does she think she was given enough time to work out those kinks? "No, I do not," she says flatly.

Would she have liked more time? "Oh, sure I would have," she says.

NBC News chief Steve Capus candidly told The Hollywood Report that he thought Curry had not been right for the job in many respects. He said he agreed with interviewer Marisa Guthrie that Curry had faltered in the cooking segments, movie star interviews and fluffy features that make up a large portion of "Today."

"I think her real passion is built around reporting on international stories," he said. "It’s tough to convey a sincere interest in something if you don’t possess it ... and you could tell with her, you can tell with any anchor, whether they’re into it or not. And I think we’ve now come up with a role that will play to her strengths.”

Capus said that, although he felt it was right to give Curry a chance at the top "Today" job (she had put in fourteen years as newsreader and already been passed over once before), he had had no choice but to make the change.

“We gave her a year to prove herself, and ultimately we came to the conclusion that she had played at the highest level she could," he said. "When you’re in the major leagues of our profession, you’ve got to continue to be at peak performance in order to stay there."

A good reminder when you are interviewing talent for any opening.

Take time to really get to know the candidate.  Be sure that the people he/she will be working with have what it takes to build positive chemistry.  Check references.  Double check everything.  Don't make snap decisions.

And, still, realize that it might not "click" right at the start.

Knowing how long to give something that isn't working is as much an art as the original hiring process.

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